It’s the same old story about the Steelers’ dominance: Great defense and a dynamic, play-making quarterback by the name of Ben Roethlisberger.
And dealing with such an opponent on a short week doesn’t make the challenge any easier.
The Browns don’t have time this week to review Sunday’s loss to the Ravens, and that’s probably a good thing. They have more than enough to keep them busy trying to get a handle on what, if anything, they might be able to do against a Steeler team fresh off of a 35-7 pummeling of Cincinnati.
After a few somewhat promising weeks, the Browns’ offense ground to a halt against the Ravens, who have the NFL’s third-ranked defense. The Steelers’ defense ranks first in the league.
Like the Ravens, the Steelers are physical and talented up front, beginning with nose tackle Casey Hampton and end Brett Keisel. They are more than capable of putting consistent heat on Colt McCoy.
Keisel has considerable size and strength, and does an excellent job of stopping the run. Left tackle Joe Thomas will have the primary responsibility of blocking Keisel, and he will have his hands full because of Keisel’s consistently strong effort.
Strong safety Troy Polamalu, who returned to action against the Bengals after dealing with post-concussion symptoms, remains a disruptive force in coverage and in rushing the passer. McCoy’s constant challenge will be trying to figure out where he is in coverage and from where he is blitzing.
Relying on his excellent feel for pressure and the ability to continue to look downfield in the face of a rush, Roethlisberger remains the king of keeping plays alive and making plays outside of the pocket. As he demonstrated once again last Sunday, he doesn’t need to throw for 200 yards to be highly effective; he threw for only 176 yards against the Bengals, but had two touchdowns to highly explosive wide receiver Mike Wallace and an impressive passer rating of 117.3.
The Steelers’ primary offensive strength is a quick-strike passing attack, but they are more than capable of running well. Their 136 rushing yards against Cincinnati – including 74 that helped them build a 28-7 first-half lead – was their highest total in six games.
Despite the Steelers’ defensive prowess, they haven’t done a very good job taking the ball away from opponents. Meanwhile, they’ve had problems hanging onto the ball. They rank near the bottom of the league in takeaways/giveaways at minus-6.
If the Browns’ defense has shown it can do one thing right, it is causing turnovers. Jabaal Sheard had his fifth strip-sack of the season against Baltimore, boosting the Browns’ takeaway total to 14 (nine interceptions and five fumbles) and giving them a minus-1 (17th in the NFL) in takeaways/giveaways.
>>Be sure to tune in Monday through Friday, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. ET, for “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford” on ESPN 850 WKNR or catch the live stream right here on ClevelandBrowns.com.
>>Have a question for “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford”? Ask me at Twitter.com/viccarucci
Posted in Carucci's Call | No Comments »